Separation Anxiety

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by Thomas Luongo: Surviving
Contact with u2018The Plan'



last we left off

it was early 2005 and "The Plan" had been mostly a success.
We were, though, approaching the next crisis in the story. The madness
of the bubble economy had driven my boss slightly insane. Her research
program, which I managed, was in the process of blowing apart at
the seams. Government money, the only kind available, was now coming
with a (to me, not her) deal-breaking string attached, NELAP
, that which drove me screaming from the private
(sic) sector to the state in the first place. How's that for a perverse
incentive? I refused to become a de-facto employee of the EPA. Doing
research of marginal value was one thing. Doing that same research
while submitting to government audits of unnecessary paper-work,
which could land me in jail, was another. Some of the grants, as
well, looked suspiciously like intellectual cover for the seizure
of property being used in a politically unpopular way, read shooting

I had come
to my ethical limits of being a tax-consumer.

Against this
backdrop, Larry still hadn't bought his property, we were building
an addition, hadn't rolled the various debts into a mortgage and
Camille was stubbornly refusing to get pregnant. I tested my own
hair for arsenic and lead poisoning one morning, just in case.

This situation
went on like this until late June. While negotiating on a mortgage
I insisted on borrowing no more than so much money as a fixed-rate,
20-year note. Well, they kept trying to get me to consider an ARM,
more money and/or more term. Finally, the manager came in, younger
than me, and tried pushing me to go up to six figures on the loan.
I told him, "Thanks, but this whole market is going to crash
and none of you will have jobs in 2 years. So just shut up and get
out." I'm really not a very nice person. By 2008 they were

In early July
we finally went to see a fertility doctor, who told us our only
option was adoption. Without paying attention to details; doing
either blood work or a full medical history or asking about current
life issues, he concluded my boys were too dysfunctional. He cut
off Camille's protests with, "If you want to have kids, you're
not having them with him," and "There's a lot of information
on the Internet, most of it is wrong." Part of me was relieved,
I'm ashamed to admit. The same traits that allowed me to see the
events on the horizon were also the ones that made me fear bringing
a child into the middle of it. Is it any wonder that birth rates
in the West are dropping like mooks in a Jackie Chan flick? Stress-induced
male infertility is real. I blame The Fed. It may not be true, but
I don't care.

She immediately
went home, put me on a vitamin regimen and swore me off my nightly
whiskey or two. That weekend we went to visit a good friend in Miami
very depressed. It turned out to be just another twist in the road;
this one for the good. He introduced me to the man, again younger
than me, who by year's end would be my boss from that point forward.

The problem
was the job was in Stuart, which is south of Gainesville… oh, like,
250 miles south. It was a great opportunity to combine the two things
I'm really good at, problem solving and generating data, all to
bring a much-needed technology to maturity. This was a chance to
put those free-market principles I was so good at espousing into
action while getting off the government dole and possibly getting
rich as a consequence. Camille just knew I would be happy doing
research as opposed to baby-sitting academics. Still, she had to
push me to accept the job. It wasn't a calling, but it was finally
a career.

By they way,
she was pregnant by mid-August.

We closed on
Larry's property in November and I moved into an apartment in early
December. The addition wasn't finished. I would travel home on the
weekends. I still do. Camille tiled her tub surround seven months
pregnant. The wood-burning stove was installed the day before the
first overnight frost along with the front door, which I built that
same day.

We had decided
to have our child at home, as we knew the hospital, for us, would
not be an optimal environment for Camille, which is paramount. The
cesarean rates in Florida were over 25%, now
over 28%.
The fear of lawsuit has driven hospital assistance
of the most basic of human functions irretrievably insane. Besides,
if a couple we knew could deliver their two kids themselves without
any help, in the words
of Jeremy Clarkson
, "How hard could it be?!" Then
again, we said that about the house. Isn't it a system designed
to succeed? We are all prima facia evidence of that. Having watched
a film of a woman give birth to twins by herself (one of them a
footling breach!) there was no way we couldn't handle this. Moreover,
Camille was very worried about me turning the birthing into something
reported on the evening news. "No. Mr. Luongo you can't bring
a gun into the delivery room." Honestly, the only way someone
was doing an episiotomy on her was if I got to do one on them first…Comma
dammit! Camille found a mid-wife who handled all of the pre-natal
care. She and her two students were fantastic.

We refused
to find out the sex beforehand. For eight months everyone asked
me, so what do you want, boy or girl. I would reply, "2,
10, 11… eyes, fingers, toes!"
One Shatner-esque pause later…
"Healthy. That's all I care about." I got a call from
her around eleven O'clock one night saying she might be going into
labor, but she wasn't sure. Then she had a contraction. "I'll
be home by 2." I was. If my average speed was less than 100
miles per hour on that trip home, I'll have lost faith in both math
and the space/time continuum. Born in our bedroom in April 2006,
my lil girl is nothing more than what every father says she is,
Most Beautiful Damn Thing in the Entire Universe.

It is one of
the rare moments when I'm proud to be utterly conventional.

The story settles
down as we figure out how to be parents/spouses who aren't together
enough. Larry had done the unthinkable, acquired and maintained
a girlfriend, and moved out just before the birth. Now that "The
Plan" had been implemented, we could get on with the real preparations
for whatever future awaited us as a family.


19, 2010

Luongo [send him email]
is a professional chemist, amateur economist and obstreperous recovering
Yankee residing in North Florida.

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